Swiss positive despite eurozone crisis: survey
Unemployment remains the number one concern, but despite the economic crisis in Europe, Swiss citizens are bullish about their prospects and proud about their country, a survey conducted for Credit Suisse shows.
A majority of respondents believe Switzerland’s economic situation is stable and one-fifth even believe that things are improving, according to the bank’s annual “Worry Barometer” report for 2012, released on Tuesday.
A strong majority of those surveyed — 59 percent — describe their personal situations as “good” or “very good”, the annual report says.
And the outlook for lower-income groups has noticeably improved, the report says, underlining the positive feeling that average Swiss have about the future.
“As in the previous year, 92 percent expect next year to be just as good for them personally as this year has been.”
The findings are based on a survey conducted for Credit Suisse by polling firm gfs.bern, which interviewed 1,003 eligible voters from July 30th to August 31st.
“It may come as a surprise that the Swiss are optimistic about the economy, given the serious problems facing Greece, Spain and other European countries,” the bank said in its report.
“The most likely explanation appears to be that Switzerland enjoys a relatively robust domestic economy and a high level of private consumption.”
While optimism prevailed, concerns about unemployment remained the top concern, cited by 49 percent of respondents, although down from 52 percent a year ago.
It has been the main concern for the Swiss population for the past 10 years, according to past Worry Barometer reports, although the level of concern is far greater in French-speaking than German-speaking areas.
But worries over joblessness are clearly down from 2010 when 76 percent of respondents cited the issue.
Worries about foreigners are the second major concern, identified by 37 percent of respondents, up one percent from a year earlier.
In German-speaking Switzerland, the number of foreigners moving into the country is seen as big a worry as unemployment.
The survey suggests that “the Swiss population does not regard the free movement of persons as entirely positive,” the report says.
Since 2007, an agreement with the European Union over labour mobility has boosted immigration in the country.
More than 1.7 million foreigners live in Switzerland, accounting for 22 percent of the population.
Among related concerns, 77 percent of respondents perceive immigration as a threat to Switzerland’s identity.
Still, only three percent believe that increasing numbers of foreigners will be a major problem for future generations, ranking lack of jobs and environmental issues as far greater concerns.
Another finding of this year’s Worry Barometer is that retirement issues are the third biggest concern for Swiss, mentioned by 36 percent of respondents, up from 27 percent a year earlier.
This is followed by asylum issues, health care and for the first time, the “euro crisis”, cited as a worry by 22 percent.
At the bottom end of concerns are the financial crisis (cited by 14 percent, down from 30 percent the previous year), salaries (13 percent, down from 14 percent) and gasoline and crude oil prices (13 percent, up from five percent).